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The World (XXI)

The World (XXI) is a trump or Major Arcana card in the tarot deck. It is usually the final card of the Major Arcana or tarot trump sequence. In the tarot family of card games, this card is usually worth five points.



In the early twentieth century, A. E. Waite was a key figure in the development of modern tarot interpretations (Wood, 1998). However, not all interpretations follow his religious beliefs. Tarot decks used for divination are interpreted according to personal experience and standards.

Some frequent keywords used by tarot readers are:

  • Integration [1]
  • Involvement [1]
  • Prospering [1]
  • Satisfaction / Repleteness [1][2]
  • Contentment / Good feelings [1]
  • Wholeness [1]
Christ in Majesty is surrounded by the animal emblems representing the four evangelists in a German manuscript.

A naked woman or hermaphrodite hovers or dances above the Earth holding a staff in each hand, surrounded by a green wreath, being watched by various creatures. In older decks, these are usually a human face or head, a lion, an ox, and an eagle, the symbols of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It also holds reference to the vision of Ezekiel in the Old Testament. This is a reference to the all-encompassing knowledge of the Bible, the Word of God. Later decks avoid such blatant Christian symbolism, or ignore it altogether, choosing to explain these observers as representatives of the natural world, or the kingdom of beasts. An alternative explanation is based on astrological symbolism. The human face, bull, lion, and eagle represent the fixed signs of the zodiac, Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, and Scorpio.

In some decks the wreath is a basilisk (crowned reptile) biting its own tail; this basilisk is also sometimes called an Ouroborous.

In some decks, this card is also called "The Universe."

Divination Usage


The World represents an ending to a cycle of life, a pause in life before the next big cycle beginning with the fool. The figure is at once male and female, above and below, suspended between the heavens and the earth. It is completeness.

According to Robert M. Place in his book The Tarot, the symbolic fourfold structure of the physical world is used to define the sacred center of the world. The World card is thus a symbol of this sacred center, the goal of mystical seekers. The lady in the center is its symbol. In some older decks, this central figure is Christ, in others it is Hermes.

The four figures in the corners of the card are also referenced in the Book of Revelation, 4:7, "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." Together with the central figure enclosed by a wreath, they make up the five elements.

According to astrological tradition (for example, see Nicholas DeVore, Encyclopedia of Astrology, p. 355), the Lion is Leo, a fire sign; the Bull or calf is Taurus, an earth sign; the Man is Aquarius, an air sign; and the Eagle is Scorpio, a water sign. According to Place, Sophia, meaning Prudence or Wisdom (the dancing woman in the center), is spirit or the sacred center, the 5th element. It is the fourth of the Cardinal virtues in the Tarot.


  • Place, Robert M. (2005) The Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination, Penguin Books. p. 165-68.
  • Waite, A. E. (1910). Pictorial Key to the Tarot.
  • Wood, Juliette. (1998). The Celtic Tarot and the Secret Tradition: A Study in Modern Legend Making. Folklore 109: 15-24.

In popular culture

  • The World is the name of the final boss in The House of the Dead 4. It is depicted as giant insect-like humanoid made of ice. All of the bosses in the House of the Dead series are named for cards from the Major Arcana.
  • The World is Dio Brando's stand in JoJo's Bizzare Adventure, and has the power to stop time. This is also the subject of a long-running internet meme.
  • In the Persona 3: FES, it is possible to obtain Aeon Arcana by dating Aigis, although it is alternate Judgment Arcana. In both Persona 3 and Persona 4 the Main Characters (named Minato Arisato and Souji Seta in the mangas) reach The World unlocking their ultimate potential, Minato creates the Universe Arcana and performs a miracle while Souji transmorphoses Izanagi into Izanagi no Ōkami the Original God.

External links

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